Dear reader,

A caveat.

Everything posted here is worth thinking about. On the other hand, the ideas and opinions put forth may not be right.

Curated and annotated by Timoni West.

June 18th, 2014
The last few minutes of the episode were so intense—one moment the show was proceeding along as normal, and the next I was being shoved into the backseat of a police car and driven to a detainment facility. I just sat there completely stunned for a few minutes, trying to process what had happened. That’s classic Game Of Thrones, though: no one’s safe.
June 5th, 2014

Nancy and Ann Wilson in Central Park in the seventies (via Painless Panache)

May 29th, 2014

Andrew Davidson’s hand engraved Harry Potter covers for Bloomsbury (in collaberation with Webb & Webb. (via Creative Review)

La Danse Macabre, by Alfred Rethel (via ArtExpertsWebsite)

Castle matt painting from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, via Animation Treasures.

Untitlted by Beksiński, 1978, via Surrealist Sunday | Something’s Out There)

Images from La Danse Macabre by Rene Georges Hermann-Paul, 1919. (via 50 Watts)

May 27th, 2014

From Project 2501:

A respectful homage to Shirow Masamune’s manga and Mamoru Oshii’s seminal film “Ghost in the Shell”, this is a modernized direction that still tries to stays true to the original creator’s vision. What started as a photo tribute directed by Ash Thorp and Tim Tadder (photography), soon became a worldwide collaboration of more than 20 artists from around the world, with each and everyone coming together to help breath life into the project, resulting in the artistic interpretation you see below.

The problem is not that a URL and a Search Term are two different things. The problem is that that particular distinction is one of thousands that are hidden under the surface of simple computer and internet tasks. What’s the difference between a “program” and a “web site?” What’s the difference between a local and a remote file? What’s a remote file? What’s caching? How do you tell the difference between a browser window that looks like a dialog box, and a modal window that contains a browser pane? Because guess what? All of those things matter at some point — and somewhere out there is a development team working hard to blur the distinction for their application, just for the hell of it.

Jeff Eaton, Is That So Hard?.

Nice reminder that the humans are not dumb: the world is complicated, and we all take mental shortcuts.

May 25th, 2014
We don’t know if Elliot Rodger was mentally ill. We don’t know if he was a “madman.” We do know that he was desperately lonely and unhappy, and that the Men’s Rights Movement convinced him that his loneliness and unhappiness was intentionally caused by women. Because this is what the Men’s Rights Movement does: it spreads misogyny, it spreads violence, and most of all it spreads a sense of entitlement towards women’s bodies. Pretending that this is the a rare act perpetrated by a “crazy” person is disingenuous and also does nothing to address the threat of violence that women face every day.
May 23rd, 2014
May 22nd, 2014

Organizational sociologists call these beliefs “rational myths,” convictions about how things should be done that are widely shared but not necessarily accurate. Back when work revolved around the power loom and the assembly line, centralized schedules and locations made sense. The 40-hour work week, time-oriented management practices, and our beliefs about them, became institutionalized during this period.

But a lot of what we believe about the right kind of workplace is wrong. Studies show that people who have control over when and where they work are more productive and have better morale and loyalty.

…But what about the collaborations and creativity from water-cooler conversations?

These conversations actually may encourage groupthink rather than innovation. Studies show that people tend to network, cooperate and collaborate with others like themselves, so hallway conversations may merely result in interactions among those who think alike. It’s the collaboration among diverse groups of people that fosters the most creative and cutting-edge thinking. Because virtual interactions through online chats and teleconferencing make personal similarities less obvious, these may be better than hallway conversations for cultivating innovation.

Benefit of office face time a myth, by Catherine Albison and Shelley Correll.

I’ve often worked in environments where major decisions weren’t made in meetings, but in hallways and casual conversations around desks. It works up to a point—about ten or so people in product, let’s say. But once the company gets bigger and communication is harder, it’s a bad practice.

Quick, efficient, unplanned conversations may feel comfortable and natural for those who make the decisions, but it’s incredibly frustrating to those who are left out. If product strategies are being set by friendly coworkers, the coworkers who are less liked are essentially powerless.

At one company it got so bad that I would feel anxious whenever I saw coworkers chatting near my desk; until I took off my headphones and joined in, I could never be sure they weren’t making product decisions that I’d find out about in an Asana comment later. This is particularly difficult for designers, who often layout detailed user flows within a specific, consistent framework—one change can affect the entire flow.

Being a friendly coworker, going out to lunch, and being part of those hallway conversations is generally considered a good practice—Networking 101. But keep in mind that those practices were set in place when offices were much more homogeneous, and benefit those who are most popular or powerful, not the best at their jobs. Also keep in mind, if you are the powerful, casual decision maker, that if you choose to keep the hallway meeting technique, the onus is on you to make sure you have hallway meetings with everyone—not just your favorite coworkers.

May 21st, 2014
It’s the realization that persistently false beliefs stem from issues closely tied to our conception of self that prompted Nyhan and his colleagues to look at less traditional methods of rectifying misinformation. Rather than correcting or augmenting facts, they decided to target people’s beliefs about themselves. In a series of studies that they’ve just submitted for publication, the Dartmouth team approached false-belief correction from a self-affirmation angle, an approach that had previously been used for fighting prejudice and low self-esteem. The theory, pioneered by Claude Steele, suggests that, when people feel their sense of self threatened by the outside world, they are strongly motivated to correct the misperception, be it by reasoning away the inconsistency or by modifying their behavior. For example, when women are asked to state their gender before taking a math or science test, they end up performing worse than if no such statement appears, conforming their behavior to societal beliefs about female math-and-science ability. To address this so-called stereotype threat, Steele proposes an exercise in self-affirmation: either write down or say aloud positive moments from your past that reaffirm your sense of self and are related to the threat in question. Steele’s research suggests that affirmation makes people far more resilient and high performing, be it on an S.A.T., an I.Q. test, or at a book-club meeting.

Why Do People Persist in Believing Things That Just Aren’t True? : The New Yorker

Identity and belief has been my recent academic obsession. This article is a nicely lays out some key fundamentals.

[White Americans are] educated around this “be colorblind!” thing where you just assume everyone is white, and if they don’t act like it, they’re the ones exempting themselves from the norm and so its their fault. They learned “everyone is different and it’s okay to see/acknowledge race, it shouldn’t be hard to offer respect to people regardless” too late.

flowerflowerflowers’s comment on the Reddit thread “Racist, Sexist Comments on Imgur About Asians: What’s up with all the racist/sexist comments on imgur everytime there’s an Asian?”.

I post this because it rings true to me. I grew up in a town in Nebraska that was about 4994/5000 white. There were few opportunities to interact with other races, but that translated into few opportunities to be actively racist. Other than idolizing black rappers, which we all did, we had no idea of the subtle social differences that I have spent the rest of my life awkwardly bumping up against.